Confederations Cup 'will see 12 stars'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 4:27am


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Host Brazil will play Japan in the opening match of next year's Confederations Cup, while world champions Spain will debut against Uruguay.

Brazil will also play Italy and Mexico in group A of the tournament among continental champions. Yesterday's draw in Sao Paulo also pits Tahiti and the yet-to-be decided winners of the African Cup of Nations alongside Spain and Uruguay in group B.

The eight-team warm-up event, which helps the host country test some of its 2014 World Cup preparations, will be played from June 15-30 in six Brazilian cities. The opener is in the capital Brasilia and the final at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil, again under the command of Luiz Felipe Scolari, has won three Confederation Cup titles, including the last two in 2005 and 2009. Mexico, Concacaf's Gold Cup winners last year, are the only other participating team to have won the tournament - in 1999 in a final against Brazil at home. The winners of the African Cup of Nations will be known in February.

Despite only eight nations participating, there was a temporary mix-up in the draw when Uruguay were wrongly put in the third position in group B. Fifa secretary Jerome Valcke showed surprise when a subsequent ball was allotted the same third place, before Uruguay were moved to the correct second slot of group B.

Four teams had been allocated to their groups ahead of the draw. Brazil and Spain were the seeded teams, while Italy and Uruguay were distributed in advance to avoid matchups from teams of the same continent in the first round.

Fifa gave Brazil a big vote of confidence by allowing the tournament to be played in six host cities despite some concerns. Recife and Salvador were ratified less than a month ago.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Brazil would seek to win on the pitch and off.

"Winning is a mission in itself - but we also must win beyond the stadiums by putting the organisation in place. The venues will be ready." The Confederations Cup brings together four former world champions in reigning top-ranked side Spain, five-times winners the Brazilians themselves, four-times champions Italy and Uruguay, inaugural world champions in 1930 and then 1950, when they beat their hosts in Rio.

Fifa chief Sepp Blatter said ahead of the draw that "this is really a rendezvous of world champions. High quality is here - we have 12 World Cup stars", referring to the roll of honour in terms of world titles.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse